(It appears as I was updating this website, I was accidentally sending out a test post - my sincere apologies. The digital transformation is hard. QED.)
I've recently deleted my Facebook account, once again. I'm pretty sure that it's final this time. I respect Facebook as a company and I can see how one can love their products. But it's not for me. It used to be great for staying in touch with friends, and seeing pictures and news of friends and family. But Facebook ended up being mostly ads and "news" about Trump. Then came the fake news story. Then came the long-held realization about micro-targeting for political purposes. Then came the censorship deal with China's government. And the realization that what I see on Facebook, and what my friends see about me, is entirely driven by an algorithm. And this algorithm is entirely driven to maximize profits for Facebook. None of this on its own is a game stopper, but in its combination, and the fact that there was little upside to being on Facebook, I had to quit. In a strange way, I felt dirty using Facebook - I knew I was the product that was being monetized, but I checked nevertheless multiple times a day, just to think each and every time "why am I doing this?".
I have seen a lot of "quit social media you'll better off" posts lately. For me, Twitter has been too much of a benefit, professionally and personally, to just walk away from it. It truly has become my major source of professional news. I try to keep the politics and personal stuff to a minimum, and appreciate if others do that as well. To me, Twitter is what LinkedIn wanted to be - a professional network. The fact that my Twitter client does not algorithmically filter the tweets is a great benefit. The fact that Twitter has remained true to its roots - short messages where you need to get to the point fast - is a great benefit. The fact that Twitter is public by default is a great benefit - it means that I think twice about posting rants (sometimes I fail at this).
But I feel uneasy about Twitter too. The fact that I am delegating communication to a third party is troubling. What if Twitter gets sold to another company and becomes a horrible product? What if they change in a way I don't like? What if they go out of business? I cannot contact the people who follow me, without Twitter's blessing. If Twitter is gone, my contacts are gone. This is not good.
That is why I decided to start a newsletter called Digital Intelligence. I know there are some people who follow me on Twitter because I provide them with interesting bits of news, typically around anything digital - technology, education, academia, economy, etc. - that I find on the web and that I love to share. I think for many it would in fact be more efficient to subscribe to the newsletter instead. Email may not feel like the hip thing in 2017, but I think there are many benefits to email that are simply not there with Twitter. All of us already use email. It's easily searchable. It's not typically filtered by an algorithm (beyond the spam filter, of course). It allows us to go beyond 140 characters when necessary.
But ultimately, I want to be able to communicate with other people without the dependency of a third party platform. In the digital world, email is the only way to do that.